Monday, June 22, 2009

Worrying Words From Xabi; Chelsea Join Johnson Hunt

By Gareth Freeman

The transfer window hasn’t been as exciting as it could have been from a Liverpool perspective so far. The financial troubles of the owners seem to have curtailed the Reds’ ability to spend big in the transfer market and top-target David Villa seems determined to stay in Spain.

The upside of that is he won’t be going to Manchester United or Chelsea either but it would have been quality to see him lining up alongside Fernando Torres at club level.

The key thing for Rafael Benitez is to keep his existing squad in tact and add a few quality players. Liverpool looked at times last season like champions and one man who was instrumental in this was Xabi Alonso. For me he is as important to the side as anyone, including Steven Gerrard and Torres, but he has made some worrying noises concerning his Liverpool future.

"Would you be disappointed if you end up having to stay at Liverpool next season?" he was asked while on international duty with Spain at the Confederations Cup.

"I can't answer that question," was Alonso’s reply.

I really don’t know how to interpret this other than that he doesn’t want to stay, I just hope I’ve got the wrong end of the stick!

Despite the financial worries of Tom Hicks and George Gillet Rafa has still managed to table a bid of £18million for Portsmouth and Englnd right-back Glen Johnson. Chelsea have matched that bid but Johnson was let go by the Stamford Bridge side earlier in his career so it remains to be seen whether he would go back.

The move for Johnson is intriguing in itself, whether or not he decides to join. He can also play in midfield and is very much one of the marauding full-backs who likes to join in with the attack as often as possible. Out of all the ‘top four’ teams I would argue that Rafa perhaps has the most defensive attitude when it comes to full-backs and the move for Johnson may suggest a planned change in tactics.

If Alonso leaves and Johnson does opt for Chelsea it would certainly be a blow but not a massive disaster. Granted Alonso is a top quality midfielder but if Real Madrid is indeed his chosen destination Liverpool should get an excellent price for him and invest that in another top player.

In terms of Real Madrid they’re apparently willing to let the Dutch trio of Rafael Van der Vart, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben leave, all three of which could add something to the Liverpool side and would be decent acquisitions in exchange for Alonso (plus cash of course!). If Johnson makes the switch to Chelsea Rafa will probably find another attacking full-back and he is by no means the only (or even best, in my opinion anyway) option.

Even though the season is still some time away it is sometimes a good idea to check out what other people are thinking in terms of the league title. The bookies currently have Liverpool as third favorites with their Premier League betting odds and the Reds are currently priced at 4.3 (100/30), Chelsea are second at 3.6 (13/5) and Man United are favourites at 2.96 (2/1) so there isn’t a lot of difference between the three sides in terms of odds.

I wouldn’t go betting on the winner of the Premier League myself just yet, it is far too early, and if you’re planning on having a flutter I would wait until the majority of the transfer activity has been concluded.


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RedsMan said...

Robben is a no, I dont want him at Anfield. van der Vaart is a debatable acquisition, interesting and yet not so much proven. Sneijder is something else, tenacious, quick moving, assisting, he is interesting.

If Alonso goes, then Sneijder behind Torres, Gerrard going up with Mascherano hanging back, then perhaps. Otherwise, I would say no to RM.